Category Archives: Living

Social anxiety disorder – are you S.A.D?

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People who have social anxiety disorder have an irrational fear of being in the company of people, being watched, judged and are fearful of embarrassing and humiliating themselves by doing or saying something which causes acute anxiety and fear.

It is the third most common psychiatric disorder after depression and alcohol abuse and yet very little is known about the disorder and its negative affect on a person’s social well-being.

The anxiety and discomfort associated with SAD become so acute that people simply can’t perform the daily functions we take for granted like buying a newspaper, shopping in a supermarket or going to a restaurant with friends.

Social anxiety disorder or SAD is the subset of anthropophobia a generalised term used to cover a wide range of anxiety related issues such as a person who is paranoiac of being harmed or of being judged for the way they look. (Body dysmorphic disorder)

Sufferers with the disorder are worried about what will happen when they interact with people socially and their concerns are centred around how people view and judge them.

In fact the anxiety can be so extreme it can affect a person mentally and physiologically.

Jo, 52 years of age has struggled with the condition from childhood: “I knew these feelings I was experiencing weren’t normal. If I was invited to a children’s party to their house after school straightaway I had an automatic reaction of panic I was very anxious and frightened. I was terrified in case they noticed how nervous I was. I was frightened to death that I would stand out for all the wrong reasons”.

SAD is actually more common than you might think.

Surveys conducted in the U.S found that in a 12 month period 7% of people had SAD.

What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety affects 7% of people.

Over a lifetime it’s more like 12% of people who will experience the symptoms associated with SAD.

Professor Clark Founder of the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma at Kings College London and University of Oxford says “that SAD in the general community tends to be more common in women, yet in the clinics he oversees, the prevalence of SAD is similar in men and women.”

What are the symptoms of SAD and how do they differ to shyness?

There are some marked differences between shyness and SAD and this relates to the severity and longevity of the symptoms that are experienced by the individual.

Shy people tend to be uneasy in social situations and Princess Diana was a classic example of a shy and reserved person. People with SAD  are extremely anxious in social situations.

Emotional symptoms include:-

  • an irrational, intense fear of a particular situation even before the event may have taken place
  • fear of an up and coming event weeks in advance
  • fear of being judged by others
  • worry of being embarrassed or humiliated
  • fear that people will notice your anxiety

Physical symptoms include:-

  • profuse sweating and blushing
  • rapid heart beat
  • trembling hands

In Jo’s case her symptoms range from stomach turning, heart palpitations, hot and sweaty, fear and panic.

“Until recently I couldn’t even answer the front door bell without experiencing all of the above symptoms, by the time I had calmed down and answered the door the person had long gone.”

Catriona, 47 years has recently been diagnosed with SAD. For her it was the relief of finally giving her illness a label.

“I hate labels but in this case having experienced the complete and utter terror of being in social situations even with family and friends, it was a relief to find out that I wasn’t the only one with SAD.”

For so many years I couldn’t understand why I dreaded friends or family visiting the home, why I would shake when I knew we were going out.

When friends and family visited I was obsessed with making sure the meal was perfect, the home clean and tidy, at the same time I felt sick and anxious and I would physically shake. It was like I was being judged in a competition. The relief I use to feel when people left the house was huge.

It didn’t stop there if I go shopping and I see someone I know, I run and hide behind the veg counter or disappear down an aisle so I can’t be spotted or have to engage in any conversation, often they are people I know. As for any social invitation my heart rate increases and I am anxious and sweaty.”

How extreme can SAD become?

Jo tried to take her own life, “I was suicidal in fact I took an overdose and ended up being hospitalised. At the time I was working as a receptionist in a Dr’s surgery. The whole environment pushed me to the limit of coping. It was a small working area and I felt trapped.”

Jo and Catriona know that their anxiety is out of proportion with the situation they are experiencing but for SAD sufferers its the norm and they are unable to take control of the anxiety and feelings of fear.

For Catriona, “Its frustrating because you look at the situation and you tell yourself that wasn’t so bad but the fear and anxiety is overwhelming. Afterwards I am physically exhausted.”

When?What causes SAD?

Professor Clark’s observations of adults being treated with the disorder concludes that it starts in childhood or adolescence. About half of the people who come forward for treatment say it started before the age of 13.

He points out, “In adulthood its quite a long time before its recognised and in the clinic the average age of adults coming forward for treatment is 33 years. It’s almost 2o years before people seek treatment and a very long time for people to be living with the problem.”

The evidence would seem to confirm this.

Jo recalls: “I was very clingy as a child and was terrified of being separated from my mum. But it wasn’t until I was 17 when I visited the Dr to talk about my anxiety. I was referred to a local psychiatric hospital but I couldn’t relate to the psychologist. It was a good ten years before I was referred again.”

Can a traumatic event trigger SAD or are we just born with this condition?

Research lead by Professor Clark at the University of Oxford Department for Experimental Psychology suggests that there isn’t a single cause but a combination of social experiences that a person has that could makes them pre-disposed to SAD.

The loss of Jo’s mother when she was a teenager made her anxiety worse but it wasn’t the main trigger.

Jo explains “my father had anxiety attacks so we rarely had people around the house because dad didn’t like it. I possibly think its genetic as I inherited the same characteristics.”

A contributory factor that affected Catriona was a specific event in her teenage years, ‘”I was only 14 years old and a good athlete, a coach at the athletics club I trained at happened to remark one day that I was chunky and strong and I interpreted that as big and fat.
Far from being fat or big, it seemed to trigger a vicious cycle of making me conscious of my weight and how I behaved in the company of people.
Even now I am so very self conscious being in social situations and of people looking at me it feels like I’m being judged, its a horrible feeling.”

Professor Clark suggests that parental modelling such as an overbearing or critical parent who is controlling and over protective, a child being bullied or teased at school, parent relocation resulting in a child losing friends and changing school, finding it difficult to fit in and being shy and withdrawn as a child are some of the other factors that increase the likelihood of SAD in a person.

There is also a genetic vulnerability that puts a person at a higher risk to depression, anxiety and SAD.

Although there are no distinct personality types that pre-dispose someone to being affected by SAD, the characteristics of the disorder include avoidant personality types and people who are fearful of finding themselves in socially challenging situations that might cause humiliation.

SAD sufferers tend to set the bar very high for themselves because it’s an issue of performance and how they are judged by others around them. They believe they should have many interests so they aren’t perceived as boring, they want to be socially ept, clever and fluent in conversation.

This makes it even harder for someone with SAD because the fear of humiliation and failure is greater whereas for most of us if we are inept in a social situation or aren’t as fluent or confident we don’t necessarily feel a failure.

How is S.A.D diagnosed and treated?

One of the reasons SAD is not diagnosed or recognised by general practitioners is because the sufferer may be reluctant to talk about it with their GP and are unaware that treatment is available.

In the last decade more research on the disorder and available treatments has proven fruitful.

SAD was first recognised as a medical condition in the 1960’s yet there is still much about the disorder we don’t know and Dr Clark says “we still think it is seriously under recognised by primary care and there are several reasons for that.”

Many people have lived with the condition for as as long as they can remember they’ve always been shy since childhood they assume that it’s a characteristic of their personality rather than a treatable condition and therefore are less likely to bring it up with the GP.

Diagnosis of the condition becomes more complex as many people who have SAD are likely to have depression or generalised anxiety not attributed to a specific disorder.

GP’s may not recognise the symptoms of SAD because a person feeling hopeless, frustrated, anxious is more likely to be treated for depression rather than examining the underlying causes.

The treatment of SAD is by a combination of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and medication.

Psychological treatments like CBT focus on SAD in the individual. For a long time it was widely believed that treatment in a group setting was more productive allowing the individual to share personal experiences and participate in practical exercises.

Medication can be prescribed in the form of SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and benefit people in the short term but CBT is highly effective in the long term and the preferred choice for SAD sufferers.

At the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, Professor Clark and his team are developing on line virtual therapy treatments for SAD and other related disorders. It is an internet version of face to face therapy where the recipient manages the process of getting better in their own time.

SAD is a life long disorder and many people who receive treatment whether CBT, medication or a combination of both do recover but it depends on the person. In Professor Clark’s experience treatment is a great help but for some sufferers they are able to manage their condition much better but the fear is still present.

Other sufferers report that life has changed, they can do their job and they are accepting of their limitations.

In Jo’s case, “I would like to get a job, travel, meet people and do normal things. I’ve not really had a life up until now. This is not a life choice, not something I’ve chosen to be, I think I’ve paid a big price for it.”

As Professor Clark’s explains, ‘we are aiming to help people discover that they can be accepted for who they are and not what they are’.

For more information, help and advice you can visit Anxiety.co.uk

or call their helpline on: 08444-775774

additional information can also be found at

The Centre for anxiety disorders and trauma Kings College London

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ode to cystitis…

Picture the scene.

Cystitis
Too much white wine and holiday = CYSTITIS=PAINFUL

Arrive at Stansted Airport book in luggage not over weight first time ever for me.

Go through security with three cabin luggage bags and stroppy power bitch from hell says “no sir can’t do that, that one’s too heavy, you’ll have to go back and check it in!”

But we’ve just come from the RyanAir counter and they were all weighed and cleared.

Mr M (that’s my husband) decides to make a quick dash to the luggage shop to purchase yet another cabin friendly luggage bag, middle of airport proceed to split weight between four bags.

This now works and we proceed through security with stroppy power bitch spitting nails.

Flight delayed for two hours should have taken off at 06:55am now departing at 08:55.

Heavy sigh good me thinks, time to at least peruse Duty Free.

Mr M: I’m going to get us some tea, coffee and breakfast for the kids.

Whilst we start our breakfast and sip our tea and coffee, I happen to notice on the departure board a change to our flight time.

I quickly enquire with the service desk what the status is on our flight departure.

We are going to board you now says the flight rep and then sit you on the plane for two hours just in case we get an earlier slot?

That make sense then NOT!

Quick dash back to boys throw everything together and run full pelt to boarding gate, proceed to board plane and practically throw cabin bags up the stairs along with two kids to get on to the plane such is the frantic dash.

It makes the 100m Olympic final look sedate.

Once seated I am now unravelling my thoughts and ponder how do I keep two boys entertained for two hours whilst we are on the ground plus the two and a half hours travelling time in the air.

The charge on nintendo and ipods will only last so long!

We finally take off half an hour a head of flight time and land in Jerez Spain. The temperature is a balmy 31° degrees.

Hertz rentacar decide to send us twice round the airport to find our hire car. Mr M who is now feeling extremely tired and weary is not impressed with lazy spanish man and I had to intervene to ensure no punches were thrown.

Finally we find the car despite a tour of Jerez airport which I now know intimately.

Arrive at our flat open fridge door and proceed to down as many cold beers as is humanly possible in less than five minutes.

After which I have my cursory glance of our modest apartment.

Don’t quite remember choosing yellow for our walls on our last night back in August but hell, I am sure the colour will grow on me.

Must have been under the influence of…

Worse is yet to come. No hot water!

You know when you reach that point when you’re tired, you’ve been travelling and you’ve had little sleep…

Right, enough is enough I’m off with the kids and I will stay in a Hotel where there is hot and cold running water.

Mr M “don’t worry honey, I’m a plumber, I’ll fix it”

Me: I’m a f*****g tired and hungry mother/wife, I hate Spain, I’m going back to the airport and going home.

By the way you can sell this c****y flat.

PainIt’s now Wednesday and I’ve managed to lay claim to cystitis and haven’t even had sex yet let alone go at it like rabbits as we’ve been so knackered to do it.

It must have been yesterday’s meal and the two bottles of white that did it.

I’m stuck at home waiting for the telefonica engineer to arrive and upgrade our ADSL line and change the router.

Sent Mr M out this morning to buy, hire, steal a hot water bottle. Couldn’t find the spanish translation for “hot water bottle” so he was forced to gesticulate with various hand movements to demonstrate to the lady in the Pharmacy who thought he needed tampons?

I’m still trying to work that one out.

babs
The tea cost looked my like Babs from the Chicken Run!

Finally he comes home with a hot water bottle which looks a cross between Babs from the film Chicken Run and a tea cosy.

Still it’s doing the trick and and am now counting down the time before my next dose of cystopurin thank god I bought some out with me.

Can you get drunk on cystopurin?

Have spent more time on toilet seat than on bar seat, must have been too much alcohol consumed prior to journey to Spain as I don’t do Airports, flying and travelling with children too well.

Now can’t drink for HOW LONG???

Mr M phones me: the hire car has been broken into and his portable mobile phone charger thingy (well you shouldn’t use your mobile phone in a car anyway) and my younger son’s new red hat have been stolen.

Thought you said there was no crime here. Not a happy man.

Just taken second dose on day one of cystopurin and still weeing (painfully) for England and still no wine.

Bell goes, ha, ha, it’s the Telefonica engineer, thought Spain was manana, manana, they are dead on time.

Now have a new router and even faster broadband.

Well, it worked ten minutes ago now its stopped working AGAIN.

Oh what joy it’s raining…

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Honesty IS the best policy isn’t it?

Honesty Policy
Honesty really IS the best policy?

I adopted an “honesty is the best policy” approach a few years ago, in fact a good many years ago.

Some people might call it bluntness or tactlessness I just call it being honest. Why should I fib?

This philosophy stems from “if you ask me an honest question you will get an honest and truthful answer”.

I have found that since I’ve entered my 40’s it is simpler to tell it as it is, my husband calls it crankiness and hormonal.

I feel better and true to myself by being honest.

My candour if you can call it that has reduced friends to laughter, tears, horror and admiration for my blatant honesty.

“Tact” was a regularly used word in our household when I was growing up. I thought it was the sticky bit that held my David Cassidy poster firmly to my bedroom wall.

I didn’t want to say things that were untrue and that I would carry around on my shoulders for days later festering over something I had been asked and had replied dishonestly.

In the past I would have listened to the girl friend rant on about how badly her kids treat her or how the husband simply refuses to pick up his underpants and put them in the laundry bin.

Answer 1: You show no discipline and you always give into your kids why are you surprised when they scream and shout at you, they don’t have any boundaries because you never say NO or punish them.

Response: Shock and bewilderment.

Answer 2: Simple. Burn them or empty them in to a plastic bag by monday morning when he realises he’s out of pants give him the smelly bag and say “there you go love dirty pants just as you left them, when you can be bothered to pick them up and put them in the laundry basket like I ask, then I’ll be bothered to wash them for you”.

Response: Laughter.

Recently I had the following scenarios to contend with and this was my response:-

Your hairstyle looks like someone has placed a christmas pudding bowl over the top and cut round it with a pair of scissors, poofed it up to convince you its a hair cut. Guess what it’s NOT.

Even my mother has a trendier hair style than you and she’s 75! By the way it’s never been in date!

When asked do you like my hairstyle it’s new!

Response: speechlessness!

Darling I badly need to make love to you!

Sweetie let me tell you something, you do!

Response: laughter.

You don’t get to seventeen years of marriage and not laugh about sex.

You’ve got tree trunk legs, DON’T wear short skirts. When asked do you think I still look good in short skirts.

You are now 45 you’ve never looked good in short skirts! You are slim but you’ve got chubby legs what in god’s name possesses you to wear such short skirts when you’d be better off wearing pencil shirts or a more relaxed style of skirt.

Response: I can’t believe you said that to me! Is that what you really think? YES!

Now let me take you shopping and let’s find some really lovely outfits that will suit you better!

You may be spitting nails at this point. I must be a nasty friend right? Possibly, but am I fair? Absolutely!

Because there is never any maliciousness implied in my responses.

Honesty
Why spend years telling people what they want to hear, being honest means being true to yourself.

Why spend years telling people what you think they want to hear. Surely it’s better to be honest and be a good friend rather than be dishonest and an untrue friend.

My honesty policy works both ways if you’re honest then you need to be able to take it when it’s dished out to you too and believe you me it is.

 

 

For years I was invited to family, social events or dinner parties that frankly I just didn’t want to go to either because I knew it was going to be expensive, boring or a waste of time.

When I am asked to do something or to go somewhere it’s simply a lot more straightforward to say no thanks rather than come up with a feeble excuse to get out of the social engagement.

People ask you questions they want answers to but don’t expect you be frank in your response, nor do they want it.

So why ask it in the first place?

When I started down this route of being honest a beautiful blonde and bouncy girlfriend who was verging on the obese asked me if I thought she was fat.

She regularly attended the gym and weight watchers club, in fact, she was the fattest fit person I had ever come across.

My retort was yes, that she did need to lose a lot of weight otherwise she was putting her health at serious risk.

In fairness she had asked me on a number of occasions about her weight and I had always been candid.

This time I decided that now was the right time to tell her that she is obese and despite her efforts at the gym and weight watchers she clearly wasn’t achieving her goal of losing weight which could only mean she wasn’t trying hard enough or she was cheating herself by not following her diet plan.

I went on further and said that as a friend I would do all that I could to help her, as I had been doing, like calling her mid morning, lunch and late afternoon so see how she was getting on during the day. Giving her the confidence to kick the eating habit.

She was honest enough to share with me what she ate during the day and it was all bad foods namely chocolate which negated the affects of the diet. She told me that what she was doing was trying to fool herself into thinking she was sticking to a weight loss plan.

One night when we went out to dinner, clearly upset, she had a second piece of chocolate mud pie, through it she said “it’s alright for you you’re skinny”.

Actually I’m not, I do work out, I am fit and a size 10, but I certainly don’t fall into the Lily Cole bracket.

I explained that because I work out and watch what I eat. At 5′ 2″ anyone of my stature will pile on the pounds if they eat all day.

I wasn’t mean or bitchy in fact the opposite I wanted to help her because she had asked for my help and she was a great pal.

After our dinner, surprisingly, she didn’t call me, despite numerous calls and messages.

Sadly, my candour was too much to bear and I didn’t hear from her again, which saddened me as we had been friends for over 8 years!

At the time I reflected on the loss of that friendship because it hurt me deeply.

I came to the same conclusion, surely true friends should be able to point out home truths and tell it as it is without feeling somehow they are the wronged party.

I don’t want relationships based on insincere and banal flattery where I am telling deliberate white lies, fibs, or porkie pies just to make someone else feel better about themselves.

My friends say I have built a reputation of “she takes no prisoners” but it’s been a liberating experience. My true friends know what they see is largely what they get and as for the friendships I’ve lost, well, true friends stick with each other through “sick and sin”.

Of the friendships I’ve lost? Honestly, if they can’t accept a few home truths when asked then frankly the friendships were destined never to last the test of time after all!

Integrity and honesty are considered a virtue and social ideal.
Integrity and honesty are considered a virtue and social ideal.

Honesty in life, marriage, partnerships, business and friendships can be difficult but being sincere and acting with integrity you remain true to yourself and to others.

Surely that’s not a bad philosophy to have.

What do you think? Are you honest and true with your friends? Do you agree with me or have I got it wrong?

Drop a comment in to the box and share your thoughts.

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Boomerang children. Do our children ever stop needing us?

Much has been written about empty nest syndrome the feeling of loss that strikes the heart and soul of many a parent when the first child leaves home for University, work or to travel the world.

Do our children still need us?
Do our children still need us?

Moving on and moving out are probably the most important steps teenagers take into the world having been reasonably cosseted at home for the first eighteen years.

It’s a big step for them as it moves them toward adulthood and independence and although the move is a physical one for the children, for the parents it is emotional as they are left with feelings of loss and emptiness not too dissimilar to grief.

Celia Cochrane, 64 and a mother of 3 sons says “although its a long time ago I do remember the feeling of emptiness. It was hard for the other 2 boys especially Adam, my youngest who was left behind after my two eldest went off to University”.

Deborah Burgoine, 49 is recently coming to terms with her 18 year old daughter going to University “it’s really hard, even now I miss her despite the rows but our relationship seems closer since she’s been away. But from age 13-17 our household was like a teenage war zone”.

With spiralling tuition fees many students leave further education in debt and with the long dispelled myth that a degree doesn’t lead to a highly paid job and with many graduates competing for very few jobs, attaining the first step on the property ladder almost impossible, parents are faced with the sobering thought that the children they said good bye to three to four years ago are returning to the family home.

In fact approximately 1.7 million people between the age of 20 and 40 are living with their parents as a result of further education debt and the crippling cost of property.

23 year olds returning to the family home after higher education are unlikely to leave before they are 26 years.

A situation that places strain on both parents and children. No parent expects to see the return of their offspring even for a short hiatus but the facts are that one in four of 2011 graduates had part-time jobs six months after having graduated and one in ten were unemployed.

But have the new modern parents made it too easy for their offspring to return to the nest? The “helicopter parent” that hovers over their children throughout primary and secondary schooling has resulted in a new generation of children unable or incapable of becoming self sufficient.

Parents are guilty of not pushing their children into independence. Washing, ironing, cleaning and providing the parent taxi service to take them everywhere means they’ve become dependent on parents making them ill-equipped to handle the reality that is real life.

Leaving aside the stark economic facts, this new generation of “boomerang kids” have an inflated sense of self worth which is not compatible with the realities of the current world we live.

Many of these students believe they are so talented and that employers would be foolish to overlook them, in short, they feel they can walk into any high paying job at the expense of years of experience.

Unfortunately when reality bites they seek someone to blame, the University for ‘misleading them’ into believing a job at the end of the study period is a for gone conclusion or parents and teachers for some how hoodwinking them.

This boomerang generation believes its 'entitled' to a great paying job straightaway.
This boomerang generation believes its ‘entitled’ to a great paying job straightaway.

This generation of ‘entitlement’ means that when life doesn’t quite pan out how they hoped they look to the family home for support often into their thirties.

The Office for National Statistics estimates three million young people are presently living with their parents, this inter-generational living is influenced by money.

The perception that children are independent from the age of eighteen is a fallacy because the evidence supports that many are relying on parents both practically and financially well into their 20s.

The harsh reality is that at some point your children will leave the nest; it is the next step for children emotionally and physically.

But for the parents it is quite different.

You want them to seek their own independence, career, family and happiness and when they need advice or help you hope they look to you.

As much as we love our children and we want to do the best we can for them, you hope this doesn’t result in permanent residency in the parental home.

What do you think? Are you a parent that has children residing at home? Do you like the fact they are there with you or are you helping them out because that’s what good parents do? Let us know what you think.

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Fake Food – Food for thought?

If we can’t trust our own food manufacturers and purveyors of the foods we buy weekly during our weekly shop then whom do we trust?

With the recent revelation that a large percentage of the UK’s meat products contain horse meat what else has been allowed to enter our food chain?

What IS really in our foods?
What IS really in our foods?

You might be left wondering where does it all end?

Food fraud which is affecting anything from olive oil to tuna and fruit juices has now been exposed to contain less than what we would expect to find in olive oil or the fruit juices we drink (Source: The Daily Mail 26th January 2013)

Extra virgin olive oil is being diluted with cheaper vegetable oil and even tea bags have been found to contain not just tea but lawn grass or fern leaves to bulk out the product.

According to US experts there has been a 60 per cent rise in cases of faked food.

The US Pharmacopeial Convention, an independent scientific body has discovered that some manufacturers are secretly adding cheap pear and grape juice to pomegranate juices.

The problem of faked food has been brought to the public attention in the US however, these fake food products are being sold in the UK.

Shockingly, british food experts have found that honey, organic meat, cheese, eggs and even our beloved fish and chips are not what they first seem.

According to Andy Foster, Director of policy at the Trading Standards Institute: ‘in times of recession and when people are looking for a bargain, you start to find more food fraud’.

In times of recession the family shop is often the first to be cut back on.

Shoppers re-evaluate where they shop and the prodcuts they buy often substituting the luxury version with the supermarkets own brand.

Shoppers are looking to cut back on spiralling food costs but not at the expense of quality.

We rely on the integrity of our food producers and supermarkets to make sure we are eating what it says on the outside of the carton.
We rely on the integrity of our food producers and supermarkets to make sure we are eating what it says on the outside of the carton.

The public rely on the integrity of the supermarket chains, we entrust them to make sure that at the very least the right quality and care is apportioned to the food we eat and that we know exactly what we are eating.

Without the food facts how can we make an informed choice about the foods we ingest?

You can’t help wondering if there is any correlation between ingredients within foodstuffs versus an increase in the number of children that appear to suffer with food related allergies.

Food for thought…

What do you think? Are you worried about what you are really eating? Does anyone actually know what they are really eating?

Leave a comment in the box to share your view.

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How mobile working has changed our lives.

Intermediate variant

It seems a lifetime ago when I entered the working world fresh out of University at a time when the internet, mobile devices and cloud computing weren’t even thought of.

The nearest I got to anything remotely computerised was a prized possession, an Olivetti electronic typewriter capable of holding 8 pages of A4 in its memory including my C.V.

Over the last twenty years technological advancements make it possible to work remotely and this has changed the way in which we approach our working day.

Remote or mobile working has given the family with young children more flexibility!

Mobile devices, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, kindles can provide accessibility to the internet.

Work is now seen as an activity and not a destination or location that one has to trawl through traffic to get to day in day out.

One particular Manager I recall working for in the City in my days as a Sales Rep absolutely insisted I report to the office first thing in the morning prior to the commencement of my customer visits for the day. This meant a trip to the Angel, London, my place of work and then on to to see customers which could have been North of London.

This was an absolute waste of my time, valuable company time and a waste of car fuel.

No matter how hard I tried I could not convince him that working this way was tiring and ineffective. Clearly, me showing my face at the beginning of the day was the reassurance he needed to know I was working.

It didn’t cross his mind that if I wanted to I could have easily slipped off any afternoon and gone to Oxford Street shopping!

Despite earlier resistors to remote working, Managers now appreciate the benefits that can be derived from employees working from home.

Remote or mobile working has provided added flexibility to employees with young children.
Remote or mobile working has provided added flexibility to employees with young children.

In the last ten years there has been a radical shift in mindset toward the advantages of the mobile working model.

Accessing emails, connecting to remote systems and company data on the go have revolutionised the way we work, engaging with customers either on line or face to face, via social media, email and mobile phone are an accepted part of the new working model.

Employees are no longer obliged to sit at their desks day in day out. With the advent of mobile computing and smart devices accessing company data couldn’t be easier. Mobile working is effective wherever you are.

Organisations have streamlined integration of business applications into the mobile world through cloud computing providing a deeper level of functionality and security on mobile platforms for remote working.

In turn this has resulted in:-

  1. Full access to all business critical systems and data resulting in quicker decision making
  2. Enhanced productivity as employees can work wherever they are
  3. Increased flexibility, changes in working hours and the option to work from home especially during bouts of heavy snow and interrupted travel

The remote working model has made portable mobile devices indispensable, the biggest headache is deciding which one is the right one for you! In turn, mobile devices and cloud computing have revolutionised the way we work!

Many organisations embrace this way of working because it provides tangible benefits such as cost reduction, growth, employee satisfaction and better customer care.

There is a convincing argument for mobile working but is there a downside to working alone, at home, remotely?

Carrying your “office” may have its disadvantages, leaving us disconnected from work colleagues and associates. Working from home or mobile working does require a degree of discipline its easy to be distracted by other external influences such as the home phone ringing, a neighbour seeing your car on the drive who just happens to call unannounced.

None of which is insurmountable, as long as you set your working boundaries, hours of work and bolster a big sign that says “I might be in but I am actually working from home today”

What initiatives can you implement to ensure employees are singing from the same hymn sheet:-

1. Set and agree goals.
 Employees can lose direction without a sense of purpose. Managers are required to set goals reinforcing the importance of collaboration and agreement between team members.

Remote employees actively suggest new ideas, create their own projects, set and share personal goals and put forward solutions.

2. Stay connected
. Great team players are trustworthy and available. Web and mobile connectivity makes it easier to connect with remote employees but it can also make it harder and less certain i.e. are they on a call with a client? Is she on Skype with an associate?

Whose responsibility is it to stay connected? The remote worker’s or the office? No wrong answer here but remote employees assume the onus is on them to stay connected.

Remote employees let others know when they won’t be available and the reasons why, they also make it known how they can still be contacted in the event of an emergency because they consider working remotely as a trade-off they may have more freedom to slip into the kitchen and make a coffee but they also recognise that with that freedom comes the responsibility of super-availability. This in turn means that super-availability creates trust with employees and customers.

3. Focus on results not time.
 With some organisations it’s enough to show up and put in your time working and what you actually accomplish is almost secondary to being present.

Employees working outside of the main offices tend to focus on results, not presence.

Remote employees focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. If a task “should” take a week and it is completed in three days that opens up time to accomplish other tasks.

There is no doubt that remote working and cloud computing have opened up our lives to being more creative, imposing self will and more freedom to manage the end result.

As long as the end goal is a sense of well being, accomplishment and more time to spend with the family then mobile working should be welcomed by employers and employees alike.

What do you think?

Do you prefer working from home or do you need a more governed, routine approach to work?

We love to hear your view point so why not leave a comment in the box below.

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Can men handle pain better than women?

A group of scientists were determined to establish if the pain threshold of a man is greater than womens. iStock_000012625418Small

Can men handle pain better than women? P-L-E-A-S-E!

Men have never experienced the pain of child birth or Caesarean section for that matter. God never made them that way because he knew right from the creation of Adam and Eve; that when Eve tempted Adam with her body men were destined never to stand up to the test of physical or emotional pain inflicted by women.

If this is now a scientific fact explain why when I accidentally drove over my husband’s foot he reacted like his foot had been severed, oh and did I mention he was wearing protective work boots at the time too!

Researchers at the Leeds Metropolitan University discovered that men are able to endure pain and hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

Whereas women express themselves more readily we are able to show our feelings by crying when we are in pain or screaming when we bang into something.

Of course we do it’s not science it bloody well hurts that’s why we are able to express ourselves more readily.

If you bang your head against an open door above you or knock your funny bone on your elbow what’s the first thing you do?

Scream and shout at the object that inflicted pain and then slam the darn thing shut or kick it because it makes you feel better nothing macho about keeping quiet.

Dr Tashani, a pain scientist recruited 200 british and libyan volunteers for his study and measured sensitivity, endurance and willingness to report pain over a period of two years.

iStock_000008785500SmallTwo pain inducing procedures were introduced the first involved being jabbed in the hand with a 1cm wide blunt tip and the second pain inducing experiment involved holding their hand above their head with a cuff attached to restrict the blood flow.

The experiment proved that men had higher pain thresholds than women and men reported less pain intensity than the females in the study.

The volunteers were libyan and british. The libyan participants were able to endure more pain than their english counterparts.

Why am I not surprised by this finding.

The libyans have been invaded, bombed, beaten, tortured, starved and had until last October 2011, been ruled by a ruthless dictator Gaddafi clearly they can sustain pain longer than their british counterparts.

Compare the study to that of the british participants who have a state that provides free hand outs, houses, excellent benefits and comfortable living conditions for anyone who chooses not to work. Try blowing us up and starving us to death and see how long we can bear the pain?

It’s a no brainer!

I remain unconvinced with the methods that were used to inflict pain which is why I know it could only have been an experiment manufactured by a man of course after all if a woman had been conducting the expriement her two likely chosen pain inducers would be a swift kick to the preverbal guaranteed to bring tears to their eyes and the other, not a physical inducer but an emotional one something like:

“Darling, you aren’t the best lover I’ve ever had?”

The ultimate take your breath away pain inflictor!

Which proves that women are capable of dishing out pain but we can also manage it too!

What do you think? Go on leave a comment this is mean’t to be a fun blog.

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Social Media Addict: iPad v Husband

Social Media, addictive or a necessary evil?
Social Media, addictive or a necessary evil?

Here’s the thing it’s a little after 8:15PM and I am breaking with convention. I’ve been posting articles for One Woman’s View and I have converted my beloved to the charms of twitter, facebook and linkedin.

Its been a gradual process updating my husband with the ingenues of social media and I’m getting use to the tongue in cheek comments like “when’s the next big deal going to happen” to the sarcasm of “don’t you have anything better to do”, all you seem to do is tweet, my personal favourite, connect on linkedin or “like” on facebook.

This obsession for want of a better word has been quietly solicited by myself.

It’s empowering.

The importance of social media and personal branding cannot be underestimated.

social media addictIn the UK there are over 4,000,000 users on linkedin, 10,000,000 tweeters on twitter and a further 26,000,000 and counting facebook users; almost half of the population of the UK to put it in perspective, businesses can’t afford to ignore the impact of social media.

Social media has exploded in to our lives, its happening whether you want to be a part of it or not and if businesses aren’t embracing what it can do for their brand then within less than five years, that brand or company will be obsolete.

Online marketing and social media can be bewildering especially when you start out on the quest for “likes”, “links” and “connections” but it becomes so compelling and addictive, enough to make you want to run screaming out of the office shouting hey, what’s wrong with the old way of doing business.

The quest for online presence  is instant and beguiling, social media beckons you in with articles of interest and ambiguity, frivolous and misleading headlines designed to reel you in, it piques your curiosity, intrigue and desire.

You don’t need a good thriller to read, it’s all there on social media.

Which brings me back to my enduring love affair with my best friend beginning with a small “i”.

You see I find myself reaching for it as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, its the last thing I say good night to and it never answers back. When bouts of insomnia strike I find myself at it again at 3am in the morning.

I sneak to the W.C. with my ‘i’ friend instead of a magazine, or it can be found in the kitchen craftily hidden behind my recipe book as I pretend to read whilst really checking to see what’s going on in the my socialable world.

So you see I’ve got it bad.

I’m bitten by the SM bug, that’s SOCIAL MEDIA by the way not some other well known acronym!

Recently on my own facebook page I updated my status as follows ‘you can turn off your ipad but you can’t switch off your husband’.

So true.  But until such times as Mssrs Cook and others invent an on/off switch for husbands’ my ipad is staying well and truly on!